New X-Men (2001 series)
The cover to New X-Men #114, the first issue of the series.
Art by Frank Quitely.
|Publication date||May 2001 – March 2004|
|Number of issues||41 (#114-154 + Annual 2001)|
Leinil Francis Yu
Ethan Van Sciver
New X-Men was an American comic book ongoing series, written by Grant Morrison and featuring the mutant superhero team, the X-Men. It was a retitling of the ongoing then-second volume of the main X-Men series, and shares the series' numbering, as opposed to creating a different ongoing series with a new number one issue. During a revamp of the entire X-Men franchise, newly appointed Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada spoke of his idea for flagship titles like X-Men to regain some of their "former glory," as well as regaining critical acclaim.
To that end, Quesada recruited counterculture spokesperson and subversive writer Grant Morrison, at that point best known for his high profile works at DC Comics, both in the Vertigo imprint of mature titles in The Invisibles, as well as a long run in the DC Universe with the company's premiere super hero team, the Justice League of America in the JLA title.
The full run of Morrison's New X-Men consisted of eight full story arcs with one issue designed to be read in between the first and second arcs, as all stories in New X-Men are largely interconnected and tell a long-form narrative.
- "E Is for Extinction" (#114-116, illustrated by Frank Quitely) - The opening arc begins after the destruction of Genosha. Cassandra Nova makes her presence felt and Emma Frost returns to the team. Ugly John is killed.
- "The Man From Room X" (Annual 2001, illustrated by Leinil Francis Yu) - A Chinese army officer, Ao Jun, is concluding the secret sale of a powerful captive mutant, Kuan-Yin Xorn, with John Sublime. To prevent that sale, Domino, of Asia's X-Corporation, is welcoming the X-Men at Hong Kong. Sublime is there promoting his U-Men, humans with grafted mutant organs. When Xorn contemplates committing suicide, which due to his mutation would destroy Hong Kong, Cyclops attempts to persuade him to instead join the X-Men.
- "Imperial" (#118-126, illustrated by Igor Kordey, Quitely, and Ethan Van Sciver) - Delving deeper into the motivations of Cassandra Nova, this story further fleshed out the makeup of the Xavier Institute's student body by introducing new students such as Angel Salvadore and Beak, as well as giving a more in-depth focus on the Stepford Cuckoos and the U-Men.
- "New Worlds" (#127-133, illustrated by John Paul Leon and Phil Jimenez) - In the aftermath of both the Genoshan genocide and Cassandra Nova's revelation of Professor X's mutant powers, as well as his school's function as a mutant haven, the X-Men must try to broker peace amidst rising human/mutant tensions, while still combating the mutant threats arising worldwide. This story arc not only dealt with the fallout of Genosha's destruction, but also began the psychic affair shared by Cyclops and Emma Frost.
- "Riot at Xavier's" (#135-138, illustrated by Quitely and Keron Grant) - This arc is centered around Quentin Quire, who is fleshed out as a super-intelligent young teenager that is a pupil of Professor X's mutant school at the X-Mansion. When he finds out he is adopted, and a mutant celebrity called Jumbo Carnation is killed by anti-mutant racists, Quire begins to mock Xavier's pacifistic teachings, hero-worships the mutant supremacist Magneto, and assembles a gang of militant classmates to kill humans in retaliation. Their rage is fueled by consumption of the fictional drug "Kick", which supercharges their mutant abilities.
- "Murder at the Mansion" (#139-141, illustrated by Jimenez) - After finding her husband in a "mental" sexual relationship with Emma Frost, Jean thrusts Cyclops out of the shared mindscape in order to quarrel with Emma. Using the power of the Phoenix, Jean burns through Emma's psychic defenses, ultimately revealing her hidden past. As Jean is about to discover whether or not Scott was physically unfaithful to his wife during an assignment in Hong Kong, he breaks into the room containing Jean and Emma and demands that Jean search his mind for the answer. As Jean understands that her husband's affair was not physical, Cyclops leaves the mansion. Hours later, Beast discovers Emma Frost's crystalline remains, shattered in a million pieces. Bishop arrives to investigate her death, in which every member of the X-Men is suspect.
- "Assault on Weapon Plus" (#142-145, illustrated by Chris Bachalo) - Cyclops, who has recently left the X-Men after his psychic affair with Emma Frost was exposed, is found by Wolverine drinking at the Hellfire Club, and is contemplating quitting the X-Men. Incidentally, Sabretooth is also dining at the facility. Wolverine is aggressive toward Sabertooth, but is unable to escalate an argument into a conflict because it is against the rules of the Hellfire Club for patrons to fight within the building. Fantomex arrives and convinces both Cyclops and Wolverine to join him in breaking into the Weapon Plus installation floating in orbit around the Earth.
- It is in this story that Wolverine discovers most of the details of his past (although they are not revealed to the reader), and where it is discovered that Weapon X is actually Weapon Ten. Weapon Plus is also discovered to go back to at least World War II, with their first program is revealed to be Operation: Rebirth that created the original Captain America (who is designated by the program as Weapon I).
- "Planet X" (#146-150, illustrated by Jimenez) - Jean Grey, Beast, and Emma Frost leave the X-Mansion while Xorn forces the newest member of the "Special Class", Dust, to attack Professor X and destroy Cerebra. Confronting Xavier, Xorn imprisons Dust in a jar to keep her from helping the professor, and then removes his mask, to reveal that he is Magneto in disguise. Magneto, enjoying the lack of progress Xavier has made in improving mutantkind's lot since his "death" (partly due to his manipulations), has begun to teach his militant anti-human philosophy to the Special Class while indulging in the mutant-power enhancing drug Kick, supplied to him by his helper, Esme of the Stepford Cuckoos.
- "Here Comes Tomorrow" (#151-154, illustrated by Marc Silvestri) - In the far future, human X-Man Tom Skylark evades a pack of Crawlers (foot soldiers genetically engineered from Kurt Wagner's DNA, along with the powers of other X-Men, namely Madrox, Scott Summers, and others) amongst the ruins of the X-Mansion. His Sentinel partner, Rover, dispatches the Crawlers. Tom is met by E.V.A., a representative of the Xavier Institute, now an interspecies organization. Together, they transport the Phoenix Egg, found on the moon, to the X-Men's secure headquarters in the Manhattan Crater. But a Crawler has hitched a ride inside the compound, replicating itself with Multiple Man DNA and attacking with the force of an army with Cyclops' DNA. E.V.A. and Tom are rescued by the efforts of a bird-man named Tito (descended from Beak), but the Phoenix Egg is teleported back to the Crawlers' master and creator: The Beast, a white-haired Henry McCoy.
- It is in the final act of this arc that Jean, using the Phoenix Force, allows Scott to return to the X-Men and begin a life with Emma Frost in an act of compassion and love, as well as ensuring that the future in which she now resides never comes to pass.
Some more of the long-lasting changes that occurred during Morrison's run were the secondary mutation of Beast to resemble a lion-like rather than his former ape-like appearance, and Emma Frost introduced as a member of the team, recreating the ties between Jean Grey and the Phoenix (retconning the retcon), and the death of Phoenix. The school expanded from simply a training center to a legitimate school with dozens of mutant students, a story idea that was first explored in the X-Men film. One of the more controversial events of New X-Men happened in issue #115 when the island of Genosha and its inhabitants, including Magneto, were completely destroyed. This set the tone that dominated the rest of Morrison's tenure on the book.
In June 2004, Chuck Austen, previously the writer of Uncanny X-Men, moved to X-Men with issue #155. The title of the series reverted to its original title of X-Men in July 2004 with issue #157 during the "X-Men Reload" event.
Xorn and Magneto
Grant Morrison intended Xorn to be Magneto from his first appearance. As Morrison stated in an interview after he left New X-Men, "In my opinion, there really shouldn't have been an actual Xorn - he had to be fake, that was the cruel point of him". In fact, soon after the revelation of Xorn's identity in New X-Men #146, readers pointed out that clues that Xorn was actually Magneto had been hidden throughout Morrison's run. According to then-X-Men writer Chuck Austen, the X-Men editors liked the Xorn character and hoped Morrison would change his mind about the revelation; when he didn't, they asked Austen to bring Xorn back as a separate character. Marvel also wanted to continue using Magneto; Austen stated that "Marvel saw value in Magneto not being a mass-murderer of New Yorkers." Morrison has expressed criticism of this subsequent retcon in interviews.
Marvel retconned the Xorn/Magneto revelation and brought back Xorn and Magneto after Morrison's departure. In Uncanny X-Men #442 and 443, Xavier takes the body of Magneto to Genosha where they hold a funeral for the deceased mutant leader. However, in the last page of Excalibur #1, Xavier meets Magneto alive and well on Genosha. In subsequent issues of Excalibur, Xavier and Magneto debate the true identity and motives of Xorn, the individual whose bandage-wrapped body they brought to Genosha. In the same month Magneto returned in Chris Claremont's new Excalibur book, Austen's X-Men #157 introduced a new Xorn named Shen Xorn. Shen Xorn claims to be the twin brother of the original Xorn (now referred to as Kuan-Yin Xorn) who, under the influence of the entity known as Sublime, had pretended to be Magneto. This claim is supported when Emma Frost conducts a thorough mind scan of Shen. Not too long after, Shen Xorn disappears when he unleashes the gravitational forces of a black hole in the course of helping the X-Men defeat an attack by a Brotherhood of Mutants led by Exodus. Later, Shen Xorn is revealed to have been one of the mutants depowered due to the events of the House of M miniseries.
The true identity of Xorn, and his relationship to the character Magneto, became a subject of confusion to fans. Marvel refrained from giving a complete explanation, eventually hinting that the summer 2005 crossover House of M would clear up the situation. The Xorn entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: X-Men 2005 stated that "Kuan-Yin eventually revealed himself to be a duplicate of the X-Men's nemesis Magneto, a transformation believed to have been caused by Magneto's daughter, the Scarlet Witch." This explanation was based on a suggestion in House of M #7 wherein Doctor Strange speculates that Wanda has been 'playing with the world' for far longer than even she knows, and may have been responsible for her father's puzzling rebirth. An alternative explanation has since been given in the pages of New Avengers since, according to Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, "nobody was satisfied with that offhanded non-explanation, and it didn’t make a heck of a lot of sense by itself even as a throwaway".
As far back as 2003, popular television and film writer Joss Whedon was rumored to be Morrison's successor on the New X-Men title. In an interview, Whedon clarified that he was initially asked to take over the New X-Men title, but this was instead changed to a new volume of Astonishing X-Men in order to accommodate his collaborator John Cassaday. Whedon then clarified that his run on Astonishing was a direct continuation of Morrison's work when he said, "I was reading New X-Men and loving it. The other part of the equation was [working with] John Cassaday. I had been talking about doing something with John for years. Then, once I signed on, I was told it wasn't New X-Men but Astonishing X-Men. I was like 'What?' But I took the same premise and cast that Grant established and worked from there because I was caught up in that book."
- New X-Men, The Comics Journal
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- Pop Thought - Alex Ness
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- All The Rage: The Prodigal Son Rages @ ComicsBulletin.com
- Joss Whedon Talks X-Men, Firefly Movie @ UGO